We don’t think the better customers trust anyone in our company but us. It’s our fault. We’ve created our own problem. Few of our employees deal with clients. We wanted to be sure customers could get the answers they needed right from the horse’s mouth — us. We also wanted to be sure that customers wouldn’t follow a departing employee. And, of course, no one can do pricing except us. But now we’re bogged down. We’re not growing the way we used to. And we can’t take time off the way we’d like.
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: Sales, like every other part of the business, benefits from a team approach. Practice by working together to accomplish group goals. Train employees to handle prospects and customers correctly.
Build a team and the business thrives. Nowhere in business is that more true than in sales. It’s time you learn how to achieve results through the efforts of others.
Like most business owners, you probably don’t have the money to go out and buy an experienced team of sales professionals. That’s OK. Look at the talent that you already have in place throughout the company. See what you can do to develop it.
Who handles customer questions when you’re not around? Who gets customers what they need? Who takes calls when you’re out of the office? Who delivers what it takes to make customers rave about your product or service? Who follows up to make sure customers are satisfied? Make a list of people who can contribute more to sales efforts.
Identify employees who are good at communicating, who can ask questions and get answers. Look for leaders who understand that the customer comes first. Seek out problem-solvers. Form a team and challenge the group to figure out how to integrate more people into the process of meeting prospect and customer needs.
Lay out a clear set of goals. How many connections does it take to get introduced to a potential buyer? How many potential buyers does it take to get to the proposal, negotiation and close? How often do current customers reorder? How many brand new customers will you need in the coming year? Add room for error to your estimates. Ask the team to go to work figuring out how to hit the goals.
Map out a playbook — the steps to go through and the tools to use to get and keep a client. Teach people how to perform specific steps in the playbook. Ask team members to observe and support each other, as the whole team learns how to perform parts of the sales function.
Make a list of things that your best customers want and need, and share that with the team so they’ll know how to recognize a good prospect. Write out how to answer questions that lead prospects to conclude that your company is the best solution. Let employees’ passion for the business shine through in conversations they have with prospects about what they do, and why they do it.
Look for tools that help the team to communicate, plan and replicate. Get some kind of customer relationship management (CRM) system. Build, store and share templates. Find a database that you can tap into. Hold regular meetings. Track and post results so all can see.
Don’t be afraid of trial and error. Instead, use it to your advantage. Ask your new team to work on figuring out the best intro letter, the best follow-up strategy, the optimum number of connects, the right way to close. Encourage them to experiment and take ownership of the various phases of the sales process.
Keep your eye on the ball by setting some goals for yourself. What happens when employees work together to improve client profitability? What does increased sales mean in terms of your financial well-being? What would you do with an extra week or month of vacation, which you could take if you had backup in sales?
LOOKING FOR A GOOD BOOK? Try “The High-Impact Sales Manager: A No-nonsense, Practical Guide to Improve Your Team’s Sales Performance” by Norman Behar and David Jacoby.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., a business consulting firm that teaches companies how to double revenue and triple profits in repetitive growth cycles. Have a question for AskAndi? Wondering how Strategy Leaders can help your business thrive? Call or email for a free consultation and diagnostics: 877-238-3535, AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com. Check out our library of business advice articles: AskAndi.com.